Photo courtesy of Easton Area High School Memorial | From left to right: Chuck Snyder, Sam Sanguinito and EAHS Superintendent John Reinhart wield shovels at the memorial groundbreaking on Nov. 11, 2014.
A memorial in front of a local high school in Easton, Pa., will honor its nearly 300 graduates who fought in the Vietnam War.
Sam Sanguinito is a Marine Corps and Vietnam veteran, as well as a Legionnaire. He's also Easton Area High School class of 1964, which had the most Vietnam veterans.
Each graduating class that had Vietnam veterans will be honored on the wall with its own 4-by-8-foot plaque, with the earliest being the class of 1944 and the most recent the class of 1975. The eight hometown men who were killed in action will be honored on a special plaque.
(They gathered the names through ads in the local paper and verified service by checking DD-214s.)
Each branch of military emblem will be etched into the granite wall, which was sourced to use the same kind of stone as the Memorial Wall in Washington, D.C., Sanguinito said.
In front of the KIA plaque, will rest a bronze battlefield cross - boots with an upturned rifle and dogtags hanging from it. Three flags, including the state and POW/MIA flags, will wave behind. A sidewalk and brick pavers, commemorating donors, will be set in front.
The Pledge of Allegiance will grace a cap that runs the length of the monument.
The design was a winner selected from EAHS' mechanical drawing class, tying today's EAHS students closer to the school's military legacy.
Sanguinito said a Vietnam War memorial near a high school in California posted on Facebook spurred him, fellow Vietnam veteran Chuck Snyder and Dominick Re to push for one in their hometown. Sandy Lombardo joined the team as a "financial wizard" and Judy Campbell took on the administrative role.
Gaining the town's support Sanguinito has seen a recent jolt of enthusiasm, he said. More than 200 people attended the groundbreaking on Veterans Day 2014, he said.
"In the beginning it was really kind of tough because of that stigma that was around the Vietnam vets for some sort of reason. But for some reason more people have jumped on the bandwagon," Sanguinito said. "A lot of guys didn't talk about it. They were afraid to talk about it when they came home. More and more people now are talking about it and are feeling relieved."
Since the beginning, the school's principal, Michael Koch, told Sanguinito to choose whatever part of the grounds he desired for the memorial.
"The school is 100 percent behind us. We could't ask any more of them. They have been so helpful," Sanguinito said.
The Legion has provided meeting space and helped throughout the process, Sanguinito said. The money for the project - about three-fourths finished - has come entirely from donations and fundraisers, including car shows, dances and concerts.
"You can't believe how the guys are coming up to us and thanking us for doing this. ... They're all saying, 'Better late than never.'"
Sanguinito said he hopes the memorial "shows that we did what our country asked us to do. Easton Area High School did their part to support our government."
The memorial will be complete by this summer.
For more information, visit http://www.eahsmemorial.com/.